iPods, diet, Betty White may help seniors reach 100

NEW YORK Tue May 4, 2010 8:25am EDT

Betty White speaks on stage at the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, August 30, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Betty White speaks on stage at the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, August 30, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Staying in touch with pop culture, the latest trends such as iPods and texting messaging, and a dinner date with actress Betty White are keys to living a long life, according to people who know -- centenarians.

Being socially active, eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting enough sleep also won't hurt.

"If I could leave any message, never stop learning. Period. That's it," said Maurice Eisman, a centenarian who lives in Maryland.

Eisman was one of 100 centenarians questioned in a poll about the secrets of longevity. Laughter and prayer were also important, along with staying connected to family and friends and keeping up with current events and gadgets.

Eight percent of centenarians said they had sent text or instant messages, compared to one percent last year. And 12 percent are using iPods, four percent more than three years ago, the GfK Roper survey for Evercare showed.

Nearly 100,000 centenarians are living in the United States, and the number is expected to climb to more than 601,000 by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"I think everybody should have something to say in what's going on in their life and not just take everything for granted," said Marie Keeler, 101, from Minnesota.

White, the octogenarian star of a popular Super Bowl commercial, was the top choice of a dinner date for most of the centenarians. She usurped actor Bill Cosby, who was the winner for the past two years.

Tiger Woods, who was the second most popular pick a year ago, did not make the list this year following revelations about his marital infidelities. More than half of respondents said they would not invite Woods.

Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin were also favorites of the centenarians to invite for dinner.

Many centenarians said they kept up with popular culture by listening to music or videos through computers, and 11 percent said they had watched a video on YouTube.

Thirty percent said the recent recession was more severe than the Great Depression, 40 percent walked or hiked every day and one percent used Nintendo's Wii Fit. Three quarters ate a healthy diet daily and nearly a third opted for organic foods.

Evercare, part of United Healthcare Medicare Solutions, is a care coordination program for older Americans.

(Reporting by Walden Siew; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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